Many thanks to Aaron Marcus, premier acting and commercial modeling career coach for providing today’s blog entry! He is the author of How To Become a Successful Commercial Model and creator of the Becoming a Successful Actor & Commercial Model Workshop.
I know quite a few actors who refuse to do extra work. If you live in L.A., it can be more difficult to get principal acting jobs – most L.A. agents and managers do not take actors who do extra work seriously. However, in most other parts of the U.S., there are many actors who work as extras and are booked for principal roles in other projects.
If I am available, I will work as an extra for a number of reasons. For one, on a small set you get a chance to watch some incredible actors perform. On 30 Rock, I was seated behind Will Arnett and watched, heard, and made mental notes of how he read his lines, over and over again, and noticed the subtle adjustments he made. Typically, you want to give the director very similar reads for each take. Major changes to your performance should not be done unless they are specifically requested by the director. Alec Baldwin was also incredible. Both Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Arnett kept messing up their lines during rehearsals, but once the filming began, they were incredible and did not miss a word.
Another benefit to doing extra work is the potential of getting upgraded. This means the extra was given lines to say.
I find that work brings in more work, whether for extra or principal jobs, or by getting a chance to network and talk with other actors. Observing other non-acting professionals on sets is also a great experience. So if you get the opportunity to do extra work, forget about the money! Just try to enjoy yourself and learn as much as you possibly can during the shoot.